#WFH Diaries: Bill Oberlander of Oberland

As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Bill Oberlander of Oberland.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

Co-founder and executive creative director of Oberland, a purpose-driven agency.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

I'm in my apartment on Bank Street in the West Village, with a friend who was passing through NYC from Paris and ended up stuck here since her hotel and flights locked down. There is some day-drinking involved, sure.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

I sit on the couch in front of the fireplace with my laptop open to Zoom and Google Hangouts 10 hours a day. I just happened to have had my Spectrum WiFi capacity jacked up a few months ago, and thank God I did. My team are all working virtually, like the rest of the world.

Describe your socializing strategy.

About two weeks ago, I wrote an email to 20 different agency owners to hear how they are coping. Every one of them got back to me immediately to schedule an hour together on Zoom: Rosemarie Ryan, David Baldwin, Rei Inamoto, William Gelner, Lenny Stern, to name a few. It has been an amazing experience because we're all feeling the same need to connect, trade insights, and encourage each other to power on. And share laughs.

How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?

My two sons are in their early 20s, so there are no children to care for, other than FaceTiming together at night to commiserate.

What are you reading?

Orwell's' 1984. Honestly, I'm too tired after staring at a video grid all day to read.

What are you watching?

I've been watching a lot of comedies to lighten the mood, everything from The Royal Tenenbaums to What about Bob? (I'm a Bill Murray fan, yes). There is also this wonderful new series on Apple+ TV called Home, depicting the most innovative homes built by the most interesting people.

What are you listening to?

My oldest son is a musician, so he sends me Spotify playlists, with artists including Arthur Russell, The Cleaners From Venus and Thundercat. He has great taste.

How are you staying fit?

I run along the Hudson River to Battery Park in the morning, to stretch my legs and open my mind.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Not so much a hobby, but a habit. At dusk, I look to see if my neighbors across the street are home making dinner, watching TV, puttering about. I find a sense of reassurance that they're there and routines continue close to normal.

Any tips for getting necessities? 

The Minibar delivery app.

An awkward moment since all this started.

My building's super reprimanding me for not wearing a mask.

Best work email you got since all this started.

A former client went to a new company as their CMO and handed Oberland the account.

An aha! moment since all this started.

My 87-year-old neighbor invited me to her garden for drinks and conversation. I think this crisis has forced us to stop and appreciate each other a lot more. Take no one or anything for granted.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

Marketers and advertisers are going to put purpose at the center of their strategic planning and creative development. "Authentic trust" in a brand will be most important coming out of this global pandemic.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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